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Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic Update

The students in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic had to make some quick adjustments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ninth Circuit suspended in-person oral arguments just as students Hanna Jolkovsky and Connor Brewer were preparing for their first-ever appellate oral argument. Instead of presenting oral argument in the Ninth Circuit's historic courthouse in Pasadena, Hanna and Connor ended up delivering a remote oral argument, through videoconferencing software, from the moot courtroom in the Burbank office of Horvitz & Levy. Hanna and Connor calmly navigated through the new procedures with poise, answering questions from a very active three-judge panel. A few months later they were rewarded with a favorable opinion from the Ninth Circuit, reversing the trial court's decision to dismiss prisoner Steven Riley's lawsuit against the California prison system and reinstating his claim that the prison had violated his First Amendment rights.

Currently, clinic students Cassidy Young and Ben Fraser are preparing to deliver their own virtual oral argument this November on behalf of Rosemary Garity, a former postal worker asserting a claim for disability discrimination. Students Kelly Shea Delvac and Gage Eller are preparing to file the opening brief in their appeal, representing Adam Sernas, an inmate in the Arizona state prison system. That appeal challenges the district court's dismissal of Sernas's claims against the prison officials who failed to protect Sernas from a brutal assault by fellow inmates.

Clinic directors Mark Kressel and Curt Cutting recently resolved another matter that the Ninth Circuit assigned to the clinic for pro bono representation. In that case, which involves Syrian refugee Mehyar Abbas's efforts to become a United States citizen, the Department of Justice reached out to the clinic immediately after the Ninth Circuit issued its order appointing the clinic as counsel for Mr. Abbas. That inquiry led to a successful mediation through the Ninth Circuit's mediation program.

Professors Curt Cutting and Mark Kressel direct the Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic and supervise students' work.

For more information, visit: https://law.pepperdine.edu/experiential-learning/clinical-education/clinics/ninth-circuit-appellate-advocacy/